Today/yesterday/tomorrow at the Australian Open (time zones are hard), Aussie Marinko Matosevic lost 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 2-6 to Kei Nishikori. This typically wouldn’t be noteworthy, except for the fact that this made Matosevic 0-12 in majors. As in, he’s never won a singles match in a major in his entire career. Ooof.
Afterwards, he wasn’t happy, but he was talkative. Here are some great quotes from his presser:
Q. So 12. How much does that play on your mind?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: No, I didn’t think about it out there today. I didn’t think about it at all. He was just too good in the fifth set.
Q. The commentators were saying that they thought you were talking to her about trying to get the crowd to stop calling you Mad Dog. Is that what was going on?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: No, not in that instance.
Q. But you did other times?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: I did ask for that, yeah.
Q. You were signaling something towards the end.
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: Yeah, I wanted my coach to vocally support me, but he wouldn’t.
Q. Have you spoken to him about it since?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: No, I haven’t.
Q. Will you?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: Yes
Q. And you need more from him from the side of the court?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: Yeah, I’ve spoken about it before, but I don’t know.
Q. Disappointed in the lack of support he gave you?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: No, no, no, not disappointed in the lack of support. Some players need verbal support, some don’t.
I’m a player that likes it and needs it and wants it. So if my coach is just going to sit there and clap, I expect more.
Q. Did you allow yourself to get too distracted about all sorts of things today?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I shouldn’t have focused on that. I mean, the water thing, it was like a long game. I wanted a drink. I allowed myself to get distracted then.
Yeah, hearing the stupid nickname. You know, I don’t know.
Q. Why does that get to you so much?
MARINKO MATOSEVIC: Because it’s not my nickname. Some idiot put it on Wikipedia.
(Whoever that idiot is, I want to hug them. Marinko “MAD DOG” Matosevic it is. Forever.)
Anyways, Matosevic might not be a bundle of butterflies and sunshine, but he’s a decent tour player, or at least he has been over the past couple of years. I mean, he’s not a top 10 guy by far, but he’s ranked No. 54 in the world, has a career-high ranking of No. 39, and has been to an ATP final. He’s won four challenger titles. He’s been in the quarterfinals of a Masters. He has beaten Sam Querrey, Richard Gasquet, Alexander Dolgopolov, Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco, Julien Benneteau, and Michael Llodra, among others. Those guys aren’t Federer or Nadal, but they’re not exactly scrubs, either.
So what has happened to Mr. Mad Dog in the majors? Why has he never even been to the second round? Let’s take a look.
0-1 : 2010 Australian Open
Matosevic was a late bloomer–with a lost generation there’s been room for a lot of them these days–and he didn’t play in his first main draw of a major until 2010, when he was 25 years old. He was granted entry thanks to a wildcard, and played valiantly, losing in tight four sets.
He played in the qualies in the next three slams of the year, losing each time.
0-2: 2011 Australian Open
This loss wasn’t quite as noble. In as a wildcard again, Marinko was straight-setted by Berankis. Still far from being the end of the world.
0-3: 2011 Wimbledon
Once again, this isn’t so bad. He qualified for the tournament–his first time ever qualifying for a major, mind you–then lost to a top 20 player. (Even though losing to Chela on grass is kind-of embarrassing for anyone, I’ll give him a pass considering his ranking.)
0-4: 2011 U.S. Open
LOL. Okay. Now. He got a U.S. Open wildcard after Hewitt w/d and opened up the Aussie slot, and then he drew Chela AGAIN, though this time Chela was mercifully out of the top 20 where he belongs. Unfortunately, Matosevic hurt his ankle four games in and had to retire. Bad luck.
0-5: 2012 Australian Open
This is just a bad draw, but hey–Matosevic was once again granted a wildcard, so no room for complaints.
0-6: 2012 Wimbledon
Now is when things start to get interesting. Matosevic found his game in early 2012, making the final of Delray Beach and winning a challenger, among other things. As you can see, his ranking improved 131 points between the AO and Wimbledon, and therefore Wimbledon was the very first Grand Slam that he qualified for directly.
This was also the first Grand Slam match that he played where he was the higher-ranked player, albeit only by three spots. Still, this loss can be excused due to the fact that Malisse is a great grass-court player, and Matosevic had such limited grass-court experience at this point in his career.
0-7: 2012 U.S. Open
Oh dear. Now things are feeling cursed. After the best year of his life, Matosevic was up two sets over Cilic here, just a single set away from finally getting a major monkey off of his back with a major upset. But he just couldn’t hold on against that sneaky Croat.
0-8: 2013 Australian Open
0-9: 2013 French Open
Poor guy. This is getting ridiculous. At his first ever French Open main draw, he draws eventual finalist David Ferrer in the first round.
0-10: 2013 Wimbledon
Yeah. This? This is Matosevic’s fault. There’s just no excuse for this.
0-11: 2013 U.S. Open
In theory, Robredo was beatable. But, I mean, Federer couldn’t even get a set off of him, so…
0-12: 2014 Australian Open
Yeah. We’ve already discussed this. Another tough task turned into another opportunity turned into another heartbreaker.
So…what does all of this mean? Well, my biggest takeaway is that if you’re not seeded, it’s really hard to win a match at a major. Matosevic only lost to two players ranked below him. Overall it’s just a case of a lot of bad luck, a few bad matches, and a couple of lost opportunities.
It’s pretty ridiculous that a player of Matosevic’s caliber hasn’t won at least one match at a major at this point in his career, but looking back at all of the individual matches, it’s not unreasonable given the circumstances.
Still, I’ll be rooting for him to break this streak in the future. I mean, we live in a world where Sergiy Stakhovsky has beaten Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Give Mad Dog a break, tennis gods.